Court upholds ruling over Kugan's death

09 Aug 2014 / 10:48 H.

    PUTRAJAYA: The Court of Appeal today upheld a High Court decision which found the police force, former police constable V. Navindran and the government liable for the death of A. Kugan while under police custody in January 2009.
    However, in a unanimous decision, a three-man panel headed by Justice Datuk Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof reduced the amount of damages from RM801,700 to RM701,700 after setting aside RM100,000 in damages for false imprisonment awarded by the High Court last year.
    In a 17-page judgment read out by Justice Datuk David Wong Dak Wah, the panel disagreed with trial judge Datuk V. T. Singham's findings that the remand order on Kugan was abused for rewarding the damages.
    The panel was of the view that it was a valid remand order issued by the magistrate and furthermore, there was no attempt by the respondent (Kugan's mother) or his counsel to challenge the remand order at the High Court.
    "It is undisputed that no such application (was made) to the High Court that the remand is unlawful," the panel, which also comprised Justice Datuk Mah Weng Kwai, said on the appeals brought by the appellants against a High Court decision which found them liable for Kugan's death.
    On the findings of public misfeasance where the appellants had breached their duty of care to the deceased, the panel agreed with the trial judge and said it was a correct finding; therefore, there was no reason to disturb it.
    Wong also stressed that no profession was above the law, and courts on behalf of the public had a critical role to play in monitoring and precipitating changes when required in professional standards.
    On the liability of the second defendant, he said the court was of the view that Navindran was partly responsible for Kugan's death.
    He said the court agreed with Navindran's counsel, Ramesh Sivakumar's arguments on liability that his client was not solely responsible for Kugan's death and therefore, the court ordered Navindran to pay 45 per cent of the total of RM701,700, while the police and government would have to pay the remainder.
    The court also ordered the appellants to pay RM30,000 in costs to Kugan's mother, of which Navindran's share was RM13,500.
    In the judgment, the panel also stressed on the need for a public and independent inquiry on cases involving custodial deaths.
    Wong said the deceased's family was entitled to know the truth as to what happened during the detention.
    "In our view, common sense and common decency demand that a full public inquiry be initiated, which would have served both private and public interests in a manner demanded in a civil society," said the panel.
    Singham, in his decision on June 26 last year, had awarded Kugan's mother, N. Indra, RM851,700 in damages for assault and battery, false imprisonment, misfeasance, pain and suffering after finding that the plaintiff had established her claim against the defendants.
    On Jan 13, 2012, Indra filed a civil suit against the defendants.
    A car theft suspect, Kugan, 22, died at the Taipan USJ police station on Jan 20, 2009.
    Last year, Navindran was the only one held responsible for Kugan's death and sentenced to three years' jail. – Bernama

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